Category Archives: Teaching

Phenomenon-Based Learning

gtchat-03072017-phenomenon

Phenomenon-based learning is a cutting edge approach to education pioneered in Finland. It “does not include a strict set of rules, but rather comprises a combination of beliefs and best practices supported by ongoing research. In this approach, a classroom observes a real-life scenario or phenomenon – such as a current event or situation present in the student’s world – and analyzes it through an interdisciplinary approach.” [ref] In other words, it is the ultimate in project-based learning.

The benefits of phenomenon-based learning include showing students value in theories and information in the learning situation. Students use authentic methods, sources and tools; learning is intentional and goal-oriented.

Phenomenon-based learning is not without its critics. They believe it stretches students too thin; they become deterred from excelling in a particular field. Veteran teachers have resisted phenomenon-based learning; reluctant to give up authority in the classroom to students. They question the lack of providing prior knowledge to students before embarking on phenomenon-based learning. News reports in error stated that phenomenon-based learning replaces teaching traditional subjects which it does not.

Other types of learning can complement phenomenon-based learning. These include project-based learning; Socratic learning; and flipped-classrooms. It also works well with makerspaces and is responsive to student voice. Lisa Van Gemert added, “Essential Questions and the Depth & Complexity models both complement it as well.”

Phenomenon-based learning  can be used to meet the diverse needs of all students. Students from all backgrounds benefit from the structure and flexibility of phenomenon-based learning. Teachers can decide on potential project topics based on students background knowledge and personal experiences.

What strategies can teachers use to transition to phenomenon-based learning? Teachers should be open to altering teaching routines and mindsets; become well-versed in collaborative teaching. Transitioning to phenomenon-based learning does not mean abandoning traditional subject-based teaching. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Phenomenon-Based Learning: What is PBL?

Personally Meaningful Learning through Phenomenon-Based Classes

Finland: Replacing Subject with Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 3:39) https://goo.gl/1ErY7w

Finland’s Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 7:10) https://goo.gl/LYY6Ms

Finland Education Reform Introduces Phenomenon-Based Teaching

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where & Why It Happens (Amazon)

Finland’s School Reforms Won’t Scrap Subjects Altogether

Phenomenon Based Learning Teaching by Topics

General Aspects of Basic Education Curriculum Reform 2016 Finland (pdf)

Notes on the School of the Future and the Future of Learning 

Using Physical Science Gadgets & Gizmos, Grades 6-8: Phenomenon-Based Learning (Hawker Brownlow)

Learning and Teaching with Phenomenon

Elementary Science Phenomena Checklist and Bank (Google Doc)

Concern, Creativity, Compliance: Phenomenon of Digital Game-Based Learning in Norwegian Education

How to Come Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor a Unit (pdf)

Switching Gears into Transdisciplinary Learning

Georgia Science Teachers: Science GSE Phenomena Bank

Phenomenon Based Learning Rubric (pdf)

Work the Matters: The Teacher’s Guide to Project-Based Learning (pdf)

Phenomenon for NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)

Using Phenomena in NGSS-Designed Lessons and Units (pdf)

Qualities of a Good Anchor Phenomenon for a Coherent Sequence of Science Lessons (pdf)

Phenomenon-based Learning: A Case Study

Jack Andraka: A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer … from a Teenager (TED talk)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Extending Student Voice to Gifted Students

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Accepting input from students concerning their education has become an important part of moving education forward today. Student voice isn’t necessarily spontaneous, and may need to be nurtured in students. It can be nurtured by creating positive student-teacher relationships. Student voice ‘doesn’t need adults to agree with it, incite it, define it, or appreciate it’. (Soundout.org) Student voice acknowledges and values what students are saying. It can empower students to become engaged in their learning and life.

“Student voice is empowering students to take charge of their education. It is powerful self-reflection. It motivates learning.” ~ CW Gifted Teacher

The role played by ‘respect’ when implementing student voice can’t be underestimated. When teachers listen to students, they show that what the student says is important; it shows respect. Respect is, however, a two-way street and student voice encourages all parties to listen and to value each other.

“Students need to know that what they have to say doesn’t need to be moderated or edited. Acknowledge their voice and respect by letting it go out into the wild without moderating or criticizing.” ~ Kimberley Moran, Education Writer and GT Teacher

In what way can student voice be promoted and improved in the classroom and schools? It can be promoted by taking time to welcome feedback through surveys and  by allowing students a say in classroom routines which can encourage them to provide their voice in class. Schools can improve the richness of student voice by actively responding to student concerns and suggestions.

Each student is unique and their ability, once identified, can play a significant role in how they express themselves. Higher-order thinking and deeper understanding of their environment can enhance a gifted student’s voice.

Yet, the question remains; how much voice should gifted students have in their educational options? Gifted students often have more options to consider and their voice plays an implicit and necessary role. It may not be about how much, but rather enough voice that they understand their investment in the process.

Student voice is a valuable concept in education today and must be acknowledged by teachers and administrators. It can reap rewards both in the classroom and for the student’s personal development. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 14.00 NZST/12.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Sound Out

Activating Student Voice Empowers Learning (pdf)

Student-Centered Learning with a Learning Platform (pdf)

School Voice Report 2016 (pdf)

Successful Education Requires a Stronger Student Voice

Three Ways Student Voice Can Elevate Motivation and Engagement

Motivation, Engagement & Student Voice (pdf)

Motivation, Engagement & Student Voice Toolkit (pdf)

A Model for Student Voice

How to Use Student Voice to Improve Engagement

Student Engagement and Vision

Student Gets ‘Seat at the Table’ on School’s Decision-Making Council 

Do You Know Me? The Voice of a Disgruntled Student in a Boring Class

Student Voice: Inspiring and Empowering Students to Take Charge of their Education 

Cybraryman’s Student Voice Page

Cybraryman’s What Students Want Page

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Parents and Teachers: Finding Common Ground

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This week, we were joined at #gtchat by 3 educators of gifted children; Angie French, Heather Cachat, and Jeff Shoemaker. Angie is a GT Specialist for K-4 in Houston, Texas. Heather is a Gifted Intervention Specialist for 5/6 in Ohio and a SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator. Jeff is a Gifted Intervention Specialist for grades 5-8 in Lima, Ohio and OAGC Teacher Division Chair Elect. Heather and Jeff are Co-Moderators of #ohiogtchat on Sundays.

It’s no secret that parent-teacher relationships can often be strained; but even more so with parents of gifted children. As students begin to return to school, we took a look at ways to improve the relationship in a non-confrontational setting exploring ways to help all parties to work together for their children and students.

It was pointed out by the moderator that most teachers do not have a strong knowledge-base on which to draw about needs of gifted children. However, parents often don’t realize the restrictions and responsibilities placed on teachers today by their school administrations. This lack of knowledge can lead to misunderstandings. In addition, Jeff commented about the reluctance of teachers to acknowledge that parents usually know their child best. Friction can also be the result of competing goals and different perspectives of what is best for the child.

There are strategies which teachers can use to increase positive engagement with parents. Teachers need to renew their communication toolboxes each new school year; not rely on antiquated tools. They can seek out professional development regarding gifted education not provided at the undergraduate level. Heather suggested that teachers, “Validate their concerns. Parents need to know that teachers sincerely take them seriously.” Corin Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, said, “Listening. Putting aside assumptions. Not dismissing parents – especially moms – like they’re all crazies or helicopter parents.Work on problem solving *together* as allies instead of antagonists.”

Parents can also work to forge a productive relationship with their child’s teacher. Heather told us, “Acknowledge the work teachers are doing with your child. Don’t talk yourself out of reaching out to your child’s teacher.” Jeremy Bond, a parent in CT, said, “Establish from the outset how you want to communicate and what you hope to learn about their classroom.” It can be beneficial to provide teachers with an information portfolio of the child’s behaviors (academic/social/emotional) outside of school.

The parent-teacher relationship can affect student achievement. Kids, especially gifted kids, are highly cognizant of parent-teacher relationships. Adults need to be aware of emotional repercussions that may result due to their actions and work to prevent any negative reactions. Mutual respect by all parties can enhance and propel student achievement.

Can technology bridge the parent-teacher communication gap? New technologies can only help when everyone understands how to use the tools available. Not every new piece of technology is right in every situation. Be aware of cultural concerns and the availability of whatever tech is chosen. (See ‘suggestions’ in the links below.)

Clearly, good parent-teacher relationships will have a positive effect on a child’s educational experience. All parties must be committed to continually improving this relationship. When a parent or teacher does not believe this is occurring, they should take steps to seek assistance. This may include working with school administrators, counselors, or outside advocates. The most important thing is to keep the best interests of the student in the forefront of all discussions. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Parent-Teacher Conference Worksheet (download)

What Can Be Done To Improve Parent-Teacher Communication?

New Teachers: Working With Parents

Gifted 101 for Teachers New to Gifted Students

Parent Workshop: Productive Partnerships with your Child’s Teacher (YouTube 31:00)

Parent Workshop: Productive Partnerships with your Child’s Teacher (Handout – pdf)

Why Don’t Teachers and Parents See Eye to Eye about Gifted Children?

5 Strategies for Building Effective Parent-Teacher Partnerships … From a Parent’s Perspective

Six Tips for Communicating with Your Gifted Child’s Teacher

Back to School Blues: Why Gifted Teens Dread Returning to School

How Parents & Teachers Can Work Together For Powerful Learning OutcomesHow Parents & Teachers Can Work Together For Powerful Learning Outcomes

5 Keys to Forging Strong Parent Engagement

Districts Work to Bolster Parent Involvement

Harvard Family Research Proj: Parent–Teacher Conf Tip Sheets for Principals, Teachers & Parents (pdf)

How to Turn Parents into Partners

It’s Time to Revamp Parent-Teacher Conference: Include the Child! (pdf)

Talking Points: Talking with Teachers about Your Gifted Child (pdf)

Choosing a Parent-Teacher Communication App

Gifted Son Being Punished by Teacher

Influence of Student–Teacher and Parent–Teacher Relationships on Lower Achieving Readers’ Engagement and Achievement in the Primary Grades

Periscope: 5 Tips for Working with Parents with Lisa Dabbs

Cybraryman’s Parents and Teachers Page

Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child (Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling) (Amazon)

Overcoming the Barriers to Effective Teacher-Parent Partnership (audio 11:07)

Overcoming the Biggest Barriers to Effective Parent Teacher Relationships

9 Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Communication in the Digital Age

Communication Apps (availability; not recommendations):

Remind App

ClassDojo

Periscope

Canvas

Bloomz

Class Messenger

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.   CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Ability Grouping – Has Its Time Returned?

gtchat 04262016 Ability Grouping

 

Students can and should be grouped to learn in a way that best meets their individual needs, and regrouped at reasonable intervals during their progression along a curricular continuum. This grouping may transcend age, homeroom, and grade level if it allows the student to be more successful.” ~ Ellis School, Fremont, SD

 

A discussion about ability grouping must inevitably begin by explaining the difference between it and the more controversial concept of tracking. Generally, tracking separates students into separate classes, whereas ability grouping occurs within classrooms. Today, most ability grouping is considered to be more flexible than in the past.

“Without ability groups future Olympic swimmers would have to paddle in the shallow end of pool till all were at same level.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources

However, ability grouping like tracking has  garnered a lot of negative attention even in the face of recent research which presents many positive outcomes; especially for gifted students (see links below). One issue which seems to accompany any new practice being introduced into education is the lack of adequate professional development and training for teachers. It’s also important to consider the feelings and well-being of all children when changing the way they are grouped in classrooms.

“We confuse potential with need. Ability grouping meets a need, but it is seen as predicting who will succeed and who won’t.” ~ Shanna Weber

Of course, it was pointed out that ability grouping already exists in most schools that have athletics. In fact, without being able to develop athletic talent, sports would eventually cease to be what they are today. Sport talent is developed through identification of top athletes, providing the best coaches, and training. Some U.S. colleges seek commitments from top athletes while still in middle school. So why do schools turn their backs on their top academic talent?

“Ability grouping is “legal” in everything except academics. No one wants to admit someone else is smarter or better in academics.” ~ Carolyn K, Hoagies Gifted

Historically, schools grouped students based on factors other than ability; relying on observations only. The selection process or identification was often tied to human bias. An easy solution would be to screen all children. Flexible grouping and regrouping which responds to ongoing assessment of progress could be used rather than the inflexible system of strict tracking.

Preparation matters. In communities across the country, pipelines are in place to nurture and develop promising young athletes. Not so with academic stars. Why not? In a word, because singling out advanced students for special coursework involves tracking. But tracking is controversial. By definition, it involves differentiating students in terms of their skills and knowledge. Recent research on tracking that employs techniques to minimize selection bias and other shortcomings of previous research, has documented examples of tracking being used to promote equity.” ~ Brown Center on Education Report 2016 Section 2

We then turned out attention to recent research on structuring ability grouping to promote equity in high-ability tracks. States with a larger percentage of 8th grade students in tracked math classes have a larger percentage of high-scoring AP students four years later. Heightened AP performance holds across racial subgroups—white, black and Hispanic. (Loveless) Equity has a better chance to occur when the ‘human’ factor is reduced. Research suggests tracking high-achievers across the board boosts performance for all. (Card/Giuliano 2014) A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

2016 Brown Center Report on American Education Part 2: Tracking and Advanced Placement 

AUS: Ability Grouping and Mathematics: Who Benefits?

Ability and Instructional Grouping Information

Should Schools Rethink Reluctance to Track Students by Ability?

Instructional Management/Grouping

Final Recommendations Fremont S.D. Strategic Plan Future of Education at Ellis School Committee (pdf)

How “Tracking” Can Actually Help Disadvantaged Students

The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking (YouTube 4:08)

Effective Grouping of Gifted Students

Grouping Without Fear: Effective Use of Groups in Classrooms 

Amazing Classrooms: Engaging the High Achievers (YouTube 14:35)

Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom

Sorting Kids at School: The Return of Ability Grouping

Effects of Within-Class Ability Grouping on Academic Achievement in Early Elementary Years (Abstract)

In Search of Reality: Unraveling Myths about Tracking, Ability Grouping & the Gifted (pdf)

Tracking in Middle School A Surprising Ally in Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives & Impact of Tracking: Evidence from Randomized Evaluation in Kenya (pdf)

The Effects of Grouping Practices and Curricular Adjustments on Achievement (pdf)

Education for Upward Mobility – Tracking in Middle School: A Surprising Ally in the Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Helping Disadvantaged and Spatially Talented Students Fulfill Their Potential: Related and Neglected National Resources (pdf)

INEQUITY IN EQUITY: How “Equity” Can Lead to Inequity for High-Potential Students (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Assessments Page

The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner 

Photo courtesy of  Pixabay     CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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